Behind every great transportation system is a team of great mechanics. The bus mechanics behind the scenes at the Hoosick Falls Central School District bus garage, Harold Hoffman and John Cross, are great examples of this; because of their skill and dedication to the safety of the district’s students, HFCSD busses have not had a single issue during a NY Department of Transportation (NYDOT) inspection in more than a year.
“It’s a remarkable achievement,” said Transportation Supervisor Joe Steller. “We have 24 busses that are inspected twice a year. Anything can go wrong, from a burned out light bulb to a ding in the windshield to the horn not being loud enough. The effort and care Harold and John put into their work really shows every day.”
There are about 1,150 students enrolled in HFCSD, and each of them has bus transportation available to them. The busses make 16 regular bus runs twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon with about 50 children on each run. Add in regular bussing to local private schools, school field trips, bussing students to alternate learning opportunities, and transportation for sports, and the number of transported students and the miles quickly add up.
“We have most of our busses for about 10 years,” said Steller. “We use them regularly for about seven years and then as a substitute bus for three years. Most have about 100,000 to 150,000 when we trade them in. Quality maintenance is key to keeping them running safely for so long.”
For Hoffman, it is truly more than just a job. He has been a school bus mechanic for more than 20 years, the past 10 spent in the Hoosick Falls bus garage.
“It’s important to me,” Hoffman stated. “that we get the kids where they need to go safely.”
Cross is also a full-time bus driver for the district, so he knows firsthand how a bus driver and mechanic rely on each other. Without good communication between driver and mechanic, issues can fall through the cracks and become potentially bigger mechanical problems.
“I want the drivers to be able to come and tell us if they notice something doesn’t seem right,” said Hoffman.
And the 22 bus drivers employed by HFCSD appreciate the work Hoffman and Cross do to keep their busses in tip-top shape. Walking into the bus garage you immediately get a sense of the comradery and respect each member of the team has for his or her co-workers.
“Both Harold and John are very humble about the work they do,” said Steller. “But it really is an important role for the daily operations of our school district.”
The days are always busy for Hoffman and Cross. While inspections are often on the schedule for the fleet, regular bus maintenance also is a necessity.
“We do whatever work is not covered by the warranty on the busses,” said Hoffman. “It keeps us on top of things and hopefully avoids big surprises when it comes to how the busses are functioning.”
Added Steller, “We know parents are relying on us to get their children to and from school without a problem. This thought is on our mind every day in the garage; it influences the commitment Harold and John and all of our drivers have to their work.”
“We are very appreciative of the great job our transportation staff regularly undertakes,” said Superintendent Ken Facin. “This accomplishment by Harold and John is a great example of how every district employee has a role in maintaining the health, security, and safety of our students.”